The Lasting Impact of a Boy's Hunting Trip with his Father
By Tim Albritton
One of my first hunts took place on a cold morning along an old Alabama farm road
that led back into what our family called "the Bend." It was actually
Bingham Bend, a part of the Tallapoosa River that makes a sharp bend where
it borders land on which my father had grown up in Elmore county. My grandfather farmed that
land for more than half of the 20th Century. On the other side of the river was Montgomery
My father let me tag-a-long on this early morning duck hunt, even though I wasn't old enough to
carry a gun. I envied my oldest brother, Matt, who was allowed to carry a shotgun. When
some ducks flew over I crouched down out of the way while my father and my brother filled the
air with number four shells. Only one duck was taken that day. My brother Matt proudly claimed
the wood duck, and my father did not argue with him. It was my first time ever to see a colorful
wood duck up close and I was amazed by its exquisite colors.
Describing it today, that hunt doesn't sound very exciting. Nevertheless it had a profound
impact on a little boy's life. From that day on nothing excited me quite like the prospect of
going hunting with my dad. To be sure, it was an adventure -- crouching behind an old
barbed-wire fence, covering my ears during the loud firing of the guns, and the harvesting of
some game -- all of that was exciting. But the biggest thrill was the chance to share the
adventure with my dad.
Many years have passed since that hunt in Elmore county. Now my three brothers and
I all have sons of our own. My son Joseph, is 12 years old and approaching the adolescent years
when, to say the least, a lot of changes are taking place in his life. For several years I have
wanted to follow the advice of Dr. James Dobson, of Focus on the Family, and take my son on a
trip to discuss some of these changes. Wanting to make the trip memorable, I began exploring the
idea of taking Joseph on a three-day whitetail deer hunting trip.
I soon discovered that the cost of such a trip at most hunting lodges was out of my price range.
But I was unable to get out of my mind the idea of an over-night hunting trip, because I knew
that would really excite Joseph. So my wife Karen and I began to pray that the Lord would
provide such an opportunity.
Only a couple of months later my work led me to the annual Alabama Landowner and Treasure Forest
Conference. Serving as the Treasure Forest Coordinator is part of my job with the Alabama
Forestry Commission. This year I was honored to have my father Walter Albritton attend the
conference and offer the invocation at the banquet.
The Alabama Treasure Forest Association holds a "Silent Auction" each year at the conference to
raise money. During some of the free time my father and I enjoyed looking through the auction
display at some of the wonderful things donated, many of the items hand-made. The one thing that
caught my eye was a Two-Day Deer Hunt in Clopton, Alabama, on the farm of Jack and Armeto
Reynolds. I had already gotten to know Mr. Reynolds through my involvement with the ATFA and I
knew this would be a great trip.
The Lord answered my prayers when my offer for the hunt was the highest bid. I could hardly
wait to get home and tell Joseph about the trip. We eagerly checked our calendar and set a date
with Mr. and Mrs. Reynolds.
We arranged for the hunt to take place December 1 and 2, 1999. We drove down that morning,
arriving at the Reynolds Farm just after lunch. Jack and Armeto gave us a tour of the old home
place where Jack was born and raised. Jack now owns the home and he and Armeto keep it in
excellent condition. We enjoyed listening to them share a lot of fond memories from the past.
After Jack had finished giving us a tour of the farm, Joseph and I spent the afternoon on one of
the many food plots watching for a deer. Disappointing darkness arrived before the deer did so
we headed back to the house for supper. Jack told us we were in for a treat and he was right.
Mrs. Reynolds had prepared fried quail, homemade biscuits, cheese grits, and my
favorite -- homemade pecan pie.
We did something after dinner that is probably on the decline in a lot of households across
America, we TALKED and VISITED. It was fun listening to some of their stories about growing up
in Clopton. When we had finished visiting, Joseph and I were off to bed.
The next morning we walked to another food plot and hunted until our stomach told us it was time
to go see what Mrs. Armeto had fixed for breakfast. We were not disappointed; she had prepared
another meal to "write home about." After breakfast Jack showed us some of the quail he raises
and some other accomplishments made on the farm. He has a real love of the land and it shows.
Joseph and I did some stalk hunting that afternoon and made our way to yet another food plot
for the late afternoon hunt. We saw some deer but didn't get a clean shot at one. The main
purpose of the trip, however, was accomplished. A father and son had spent some time together,
talked about life and some of the changes that are on the way for him. It may be years before I
will know if Joseph retains any of the message his dad tried to communicate with him, heart to
heart, on that memorable deer-hunting trip in his twelfth year.
One thing is for sure -- we had a great time getting to know Jack and Armeto getting a peek
back in time at what it was like growing up in Clopton, Alabama. If you have never been to the
Treasure Forest Conference and put in a bid at the Silent Auction, I would encourage you to do
it. You never know what kind of "treasure" the Lord may give you.